Today, people will go to class like any normal Tuesday. Today, people will drive to work and complain about being stuck in traffic. Today, little daily rituals will feel just as normal as ever. But 17 years ago today felt as far from normal as possible.
The terrorist attacks that took place on Sept. 11, 2001, turned the world upside down and struck fear and anger into the hearts of millions of Americans.
For the people that witnessed the towers falling, in person or on television, or for those who lost loved ones, the images of that day will never leave their minds. The attack will stay with them as the defining moment that the security and safety embodied by the United States disappeared.
Today is a day of remembrance for those who were taken too soon and for those who sacrificed their lives to save others—just as Boston College's own Welles Crowther '99 did.
But for many of us, we were too young to remember the attacks; some of us may not have even been born yet. Nevertheless, we have grown up in this “post 9/11” world and even though we may not remember it, 9/11 has affected how we live.
Even if some of us do not have a personal connection to a loved one who was hurt or killed in the attacks, many of us will post on social media in remembrance of that day. Why is that? Many of us do not have anything to remember. But our parents do. Our grandparents do. The generations before us do have things to remember—the horrible images on the television screens; the weeks, months, and years of rebuilding; the photographs memorializing those who were lost.
Sept. 11 is an event that we, as Americans, all shared and suffered through together. The attacks that took place 17 years ago today hurt the families of those who were injured and killed, but the attacks also hurt the entire country.
Why do we remember? Because we all shared the hurt and the pain of that day. Because we can learn from that day. We can learn that hate doesn’t solve anything. We can learn about sacrifice, unconditional love, and the determination of those who helped bring people to safety. We can learn about compassion.
We can learn that being American runs much deeper than people believe. The horrifying acts of violence that took place on Sept. 11 hurt all Americans, regardless of background—there was no discrimination and no hiding from that hate.
We should remember because we need to remember. We have this day to remind us that we are one nation despite our differences. And although many of us in college do not have any actual memories from that day, we can remember from those before us through their stories. We should remember what this day means to us as a nation and for this day put aside the craziness of media, political battles, and hate. We need to remember this day more often than just on this day. This day reminds us what it means to spread love, stories, and compassion, and to understand and to appreciate our differences. This day reminds us what it really means to be a nation.